Broad-winged Hawk

All posts tagged Broad-winged Hawk

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

This chair is waiting for you! We invite you to enjoy the Ashland Hawk Watch and help us scan the skies for hawks, eagles, falcons, and many other species of birds.

This has been a record-breaking fall migration for raptors at the Ashland Hawk Watch, located at the Delaware Nature Society’s Ashland Nature Center.  As of yesterday, 15,027 raptors have been counted passing the watch since September 1, 2012.  Previous total counts in past years, September through November, are as follows:

  • 2007 – 6,255
  • 2008 – 7,143
  • 2009 – 13,071
  • 2010 – 13,976
  • 2011 – 13,705

These numbers are dictated by the migration of Broad-winged Hawks that come through in September.  This year has been excellent, with 12,020 counted.  In some years, Broad-winged Hawks migrate to our west in the mountains, and we don’t get as many.  This year, they concentrated their migration through the Piedmont, where Ashland Hawk Watch sits. 

The tally board at Ashland Hawk Watch displays the migration of raptors here through the fall and is updated daily.

Now is a good time to visit the Ashland Hawk Watch.  On a day with winds out of the north, you may see lots of Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-tailed, and Red-shouldered Hawks with some Bald Eagles, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, and Merlin mixed in.  The big highlight this past week has been the arrival of our first Golden Eagles.  These huge raptors that breed in wilderness areas of northern Quebec and Labrador migrate through our area in small numbers.  If you are lucky, you might see one at Ashland over the next three weeks.  Other interesting birds regularly being seen at the hawk watch bird feeders are Purple Finches and Pine Siskins, northern birds that are not seen here every year.

Kim Steininger, one of the dedicated Ashland Hawk Watch volunteers, captured this great image of a young Golden Eagle as it passed Ashland Hawk Watch on Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ashland Hawk Watch is responsible for recording all raptor species that pass by in their migration and our data is sent to the Hawk Migration Association of North America.  Additionally, we record the height that all birds are flying by, and this data is sent to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Natural Heritage Division.  The Ashland Hawk Watch as well as our southern counterpart, the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch, is a cooperative program between DNREC, Delaware Nature Society, and the Delmarva Ornithological Society.  Come visit the Ashland Hawk Watch any day of the week through the last day of November, but especially when the winds blow out of the north.  Keep your fingers crossed for one of the rare Golden Eagles, and experience the beauty of autumn in the golden and red foliage of the surrounding hillsides.  Witness the season pass right before your eyes in the form of migrating talons, feathers, speed, and beauty…the raptors.

By Joe Sebastiani: Seasonal Program Team Leader

This was a great week at the Ashland Hawk Watch.  The weather did not look that promising with winds out of the southeast, thick clouds brewing, and periods of rain, but that didn’t stop lots of raptors from flying south.  Cyrus Moqtaderi, our official counter, and his dedicated staff of volunteers tallied 1,317 hawks pass Ashland this past Monday through Friday.  Highlights include our first Golden Eagle and Northern Goshawk of the season plus over 200 Osprey, which is certainly the best 5-days for Osprey in the history of the Hawk Watch.

Kim Steininger has been our most dedicated volunteer at the Ashland Hawk Watch this year. She captured this image of the Golden Eagle that flew by, 142 meters up.

It was also a great week for Sharp-shinned Hawk with 341, and 208 American Kestrel is excellent. Broad-winged Hawks also made a reappearance on Friday with 247 cruising by.  Finally, 15 Peregrine Falcons in 5 days at Ashland is pretty good for this usually coastal migrant.  We usually only get around 25 in an entire season.

Kim Steininger also got great photos of this Merlin, which dive-bombed our fake owl near the Hawk Watch.

For one of the best wildlife viewing experiences around, visit the Ashland Hawk Watch, any day now through November.  Early October is usually really alive with hawks, so come soon!  For all the totals of the season so far, visit our HawkCount site. Also, October 9 is the Big Sit at the Ashland Hawk Watch, where the Twitching Talons team will try to identify as many species from the site as possible…all day long.  Lots of good food and good people will be there, so don’t miss it!

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

In my opinion, the greatest wildlife spectacle that occurs in the northern Delaware Piedmont is the fall migration of the Broad-winged Hawk.  Ashland Hawk Watch at the Ashland Nature Center, is the perfect location to witness the amazing sight of hundreds or thousands of these raptors migrating through in a single day.  This is the week to venture to the Hawk Watch to witness this amazing migration exhibition!

Broad-winged Hawks are moving through Ashland Nature Center this week. Visit the Hawk Watch to view hundreds or even thousands in a day. Photo by Matt Sileo

The Broad-winged Hawk is a raptor of extensively forested areas, such as those in New England and eastern Canada.  Very few Broad-winged Hawks are thought to nest in Delaware due to the extent of deforestation here.  Thousands of Broad-wings from up north migrate in large groups that may contain hundreds of birds travelling together.  These birds pass through the northern Delaware Piedmont on their way to South America for the winter.  Their movement through Delaware lasts about a week to 10 days.  Few Broad-wings migrate along the coastal plain of Delaware.

Here are the numbers from this past week.  On September 16, we observed 2,910 Broad-winged Hawks pass Ashland.  On the 17th, we saw 579, and on the 18th…278.  We are reasonably sure that more are on their way, due to thousands of birds still being reported at hawk watch sites further north.  Treat yourself to a taste of fall and witness migration as it happens through the beautiful Broad-winged Hawk.

This perched Broad-winged Hawk was a bird that nested in northern Chester County, PA in 2008. These crow-sized raptors feed on frogs, mice, birds, snakes, and other things they find on the forest floor. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

The Ashland Hawk Watch is a joint project between the Delaware Nature Society, Delmarva Ornithological Society, and the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife – Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.  Ashland Hawk Watch is free and open to the public, and operates daily with staff and volunteers on-site from September 1 through November 30.  For the latest Ashland Hawk Watch hawk migration data, visit the HawkCount website.  There is still plenty of hawk-watching left to do this fall.  Take some time to enjoy the views and the raptors at the Ashland Hawk Watch.